Equality in African Relationships By Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde (part 2)

The problem with SOME African women:

What boggles my mind is this: Why do African women allow men who have not been proven to be wiser or more intelligent than they are treat them with so much contempt as if they were less human. Why has brute force superseded emotional intelligence for so long? And more importantly and most worrisome, why are women complicit in this abusive paternalistic system. I have gotten a lot of flack from women who don’t want me to “rock the boat”. They prefer to acquire power in a relationship by means of manipulation. They know how the mind of a man works, so they would rather cajole and play games with him to get what they want. Some are such that they put Delilah to shame. In some cases though, it’s not with malicious intent, but these women have been conditioned to be so, usually a trait passed down by older females relatives who inculcate in them that the only way to get through to a man is by “tricking him”. They exhibit a dog and pony show for their future husbands and in-laws before marriage pretending to be what they’re not, hoping to impress so they can get their foot in the door, and then expect a different set of rules after marriage. How can?

Women need to work on their self-esteem issues. They need to see themselves not only as an extension of their marriages or their husbands, but as fully functioning individuals who have a voice in their relationships. They need to trust their own judgment, and know that they too have as much to contribute to the intellectual, emotional, physical and financial stability of their unions. I have been to social gatherings among my peers, and noticed most times, that the women gather in the kitchen and focus on the cooking, cleaning etc, while the men sit down guzzling beer and wait to be waited upon while discussing how to solve all the worlds’ political problems, and of course sports. I’m usually the only female sitting among these men engaging them in these discussions. I feel that women relegate themselves into roles of those to be seen but not heard. A male friend once commented to me that “I see my friends wives, but I don’t really think I know them. They never contribute to discussions”. Is it that they lack opinions on matters? Hardly so. But they are subconsciously used to being behind the “veil” even though many of these women will claim to be liberated and modern.

Women by nature tend to be nurturing, and this indeed is a virtue unless it becomes a vice. Some give until their heart bleeds, even when the man treats them like dirt in the hopes that he will change. Unfortunately, this “wisdom” that has been handed down through the ages does backfire. The truth is that the more you give an abusive husband, the less he will appreciate you. Sometimes, one needs to go “crazy” to see change effected (Film: “Diary of a Mad Black Woman“).

Some women, men who treat them with respect and chivalry bring out the worst in them. They would rather deal with the bad boys. These women obviously confuse drama and pain with love. This of course is a situation best analyzed by a shrink. There is a popular opinion held by African men that most African women will rather you give them money and buy them things than do simple things that show you care. This is true in a lot of cases. I once heard a Nigerian woman say “ My love dies in three days as the roses wilt, but ticks forever with a Tiffany watch”. Yes, it is true that the romantic touch is not for everyone to appreciate, but I know that there are women who will rather be in an abusive relationship as long as they can afford an ostentatious lifestyle. Some too believe that they don’t have to earn their way in life. Please note here that I’m not talking about “stay at home” moms, or women with realistic needs because of their particular circumstances, but those who want to be kept or at the very least expect a man to pay for everything even while they earn significantly. They shouldn’t be surprised then, if the man starts to treat them like a piece of silverware. These, I shed no tears for.

Some women too want to eat their cake plus jara. They believe that “My money is my money, and “his” money is “our” money. They refuse to pull any financial muscle in the home even if the man’s purse is stained beyond capacity. They expect him to take care of all the major financial responsibilities while they spend theirs on a new Manolo Blahnik shoes and would in their benevolence “loan” him some money that has to be paid back when he‘s about to lose the shirt on his back. Then they turn around and complain that he doesn‘t help around the house and he treats them like crap (Article: Gender Roles In African Relationships) This is where unfairness on the part of some women gall me. You don’t give a sack of coal and expect a bag of diamonds.

There are men, who not satisfied with having just female children, want a son, you see their wives going out of their minds desperately trying to satisfy their husband’s genealogical needs to carry “the family name forth” among other reasons for the coveted male child. Some of these women fear that if they do not “give him a son”, he will stray outside the marriage to satisfy that need. I know a woman on her 5th pregnancy, two more than they had planned, in the hopes of having a male child for her husband. It is mind-boggling at least for me, that in this age, this is still an issue sometimes solely blamed on the woman, when it is a scientific fact that the sex of a child is determined by the man‘s “bullets“. So these women keep on having more children than they should. In this era, when a woman sees providing a male “heir” as a virtue, it goes to show that innately they themselves place more value on the male child than a female and they wonder why their husbands place less value on them as a woman. There is nothing wrong in and of itself in desiring a particular sex for a child, but when that need is solely based on the perceived greater value of one sex over the other, that, is a problem. Given our culture of generational welfare system, my dad could never understand why African men preferred male children to female anyway. He noted that the female child usually have more empathy for the welfare of their parents as they age while the men would just rather drop off money to “take care of problems“ But then, my dad for his time may be alone in his observations.

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